Monday, October 25, 2010

The Greatest Privilege

I think that we don't talk about what may be the greatest Privilege.

We talk about male, white, heterosexual, American, affluent, middle-class .... but I think those are usurped by something even more basic.  By a Privilege not everyone gets.


This is a profound, profound privilege. Pick up any book on human development -- love affects who we become.  One of the understandings about this is called "mirroring."  Baby cries because she's hungry. Mom picks her up and feeds her.  Baby cries because he's wet.  Daddy picks him up and changes his diaper.  We cuddle babies.  We talk to them in high pitched voices that their ears can better hear.  They are programmed to be loved, and we are programmed to love them.

And sometimes that doesn't happen.  Most theorists -- Piaget, Erikson, and the gang -- say that when that doesn't happen, when children miss out on learning things like "trust," they can never go back and relearn it.

There can be what computer geeks like The Husband call "Work-arounds."  That means that the best solution doesn't happen, so you make a work-around.  It can get the job done, but it's not as easy as having it right to begin with.

I have had much Privilege in my life, from the color of my skin, to the education that was simply expected of me.  But Love, I believe, was by far the biggest and most powerful.

I have never known a time in my life when I wasn't loved.  Wow.

I mean, certainly there were times when I didn't feel loved. Start with my teenage years. And I'm certainly not above having my "I'm gonna eat worms" days now.

But in my life, there has never been a time when I was not loved.  I have had parents, relatives, family friends, siblings, friends of my own, the gift of a Life Mate, who have loved me beyond anything I deserved. My cup runneth over, onto the floor, and out the door.

Not everyone gets that.

And this is one of the things where I believe we can make a profound difference, as a church, and as a religion.  No, we cannot go back to when a person was a baby, but we can help strengthen that "work around."  We can teach people what love really is.  We can love them.  Profoundly.  Extravagantly. Wastefully.

With our children, we can do this.  Drop to your knees, this Sunday, so that you are face to face with a 4 year old.  Call him by his name.  That's one way to love, too. Calling children by their names values them. Ask about the picture he drew.

And do the same for the adults.  Look her in the eye.  Call her by name.  Touch her shoulder and say, "I'm so glad to see you today."  Listen to her speak.

When we love others, we are teaching them something about themselves.  Something you cannot learn in a vacuum. When we love others, whether they are 6 months old or 60, we teach them that They Are Lovable.

What a message of liberation, of empowerment.

We are strengthening their souls.

1 comment:

Liz Hill said...

Great post. I was at a conference this weekend and could not help noticing how lonely people were- very anxious to tell stories, deep stories, about themselves and their churches. To linger at our table for a long chat. It was fine with me, but eye-opening to see how hungry they were for friendship, an ear.... for love.